Unions to protest for wealth tax and R1,500 basic income grant in South Africa

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) and its affiliates will hold a protest ahead of the country’s national budget speech on Wednesday (23 February), with the group calling for the introduction of a basic income grant and a wealth tax alongside other changes.

Saftu is the country’s second-largest trade union confederation with an estimated membership of 800,000 workers. The protest is expected to take place in Cape Town on Tuesday morning.

Saftu’s list of demands ahead of the budget include:

  • Introducing a wealth or solidarity tax on wealthy South Africans;
  • Increasing the corporate tax rate;
  • The introduction of a monthly basic income grant of R1,500 for the unemployed and lowest paid;
  • Reversing budget cuts and increasing spending on service delivery;
  • Increased spending on infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and police stations;
  • The introduction of a job guarantee scheme for the country’s 12.5 million unemployed workers;
  • The nationalisation of major farms, banks and mines.

Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has previously called for the introduction of a R1,500 monthly grant aimed at South Africans over the age of 18 without work.

“People are starving and without food. To end this, the state should look to progressively introduce an unconditional universal basic income grant. We need a basic income grant now for those between the age of 18-59 for those who are without a stable income.”

“A basic income grant will boost the economy, creating demand for products and services, and thus creating many jobs. Government must focus on attracting the people back into the economy instead of just foreign investors,” he said. “We demand a basic income grant of R1,500 and further reject the privatisation and commoditization that is creeping into every aspect of our lives.”

Cosatu 

The country’s largest trade federation Cosatu has also published its list of expectations ahead of the budget speech, warning that the country cannot afford a ‘weak budget that offers platitudes’.

Its list of expectations include:

  • Additional taxes on the wealthy, through income, inheritance, estate, company, and luxury import taxes.
  • A road map to overhaul the fuel price levy to ensure that it is placed on a sustainable level and ceases to be a burden to commuters and the economy.
  • Doubling the Presidential Employment Stimulus to ensure it creates at least 2 million job opportunities to help young people earn a salary, acquire experience, and enhance public services.
  • Funding to extend the R350 SRD Grant and narrow the gap with the food poverty level of R624.  The Medium-Term Expenditure Framework also needs to budget for its extension and use it as a foundation for a basic income grant.
  • Finalising legislation to allow highly indebted and financially distressed workers limited access to their pensions.
  • Progress with regards to a more attractive loan package to support SMMEs by the public and private banks.
  • A massive increase in state investment funding through the DTIC’s industrial financing programmes, the IDC, Land Bank, and other state finance institutions.
  • The filling of key front-line service posts, including health workers, police and correctional service officers, teachers, and home affairs officials.
  • The designation of additional locally produced goods for public procurement.
  • Additional support for Eskom to reduce its debt levels, ramp up maintenance, bring on board new generation and tackle corruption.
  • Plans to stablise and rebuild growing numbers of dysfunctional municipalities that are no longer able to provide basic services, including paying municipal workers.
  • Investments in SARS to tackle tax evasion and customs fraud.

“The government must spare South Africa another tepid budget. We don’t need a budget that outsources turning the economy around and slashing unemployment to the vagaries of the market. This will be a relinquishment of leadership. Workers expect better from the government that they elected to office,” it said.


Read: South Africa is flirting with a dangerous policy: economist

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Unions to protest for wealth tax and R1,500 basic income grant in South Africa